You need fact-based evidence to inform your construction specification strategy and to not base those construction sales and marketing decisions on assumptions. You know you want to research construction markets and you’ve got buy-in from the board and colleagues.
How are you going to do your construction research?
You could go down the in-house route, using DIY surveys online or by talking to architects, engineers, builders merchants, your customers. Do you have the necessary resources and time to devote to this? Will you obtain the unbiased, objective feedback you need? What impression will this make on your construction clients?
Alternatively you can call upon the services of a Market Research Provider. Skilled at asking the right questions to the right demographic cohorts and construction customer categories. They can provide the balanced, impartial feedback you require, with objective analysis and interpretation plus ensure compliance with current data-protection legislation.
Your budget and size of company tend to determine the type of Market Research Provider you need. Freelance market researchers and agencies are cost-effective for surveys, interviews and focus groups for qualitative and quantitative research. For comprehensive quantitative research, requiring CATI, CAPI or CASI* for example, you need to work with a market research agency or company with the resources and specialism to do so.
Sourcing Market Research Providers
In addition to your network of contacts and online searches, organisations such as the Market Research Society and CIMCIG can also help, providing information on their members but bear in mind their membership is not definitive. If you are already using a construction consultancy for communications, training or business development for example, they may well offer additional integrated services such as market research.
Shortlisting your Market Research Providers – what to consider
- Their expertise in your sector of the market.
The Construction Industry is unique, requiring thorough understanding of its dynamics, players and interrelations, with its own language. Your researcher, representing you, needs to be able to converse effectively with all echelons in the sector, from board members of large housebuilding and architectural groups through to the man-in-a-van.
- Their experience in working with a company of your size and budget.
Smaller agencies are more familiar with achieving good results with small budgets but may be over-faced by sizeable quantitative research.
To help filter down your choice of providers, compare your research needs with their services. Many companies focus on specific types of research or industry. Conversely if you need advice on the most appropriate forms of research to achieve your objectives, you may prefer to work with a multi-discipline Market Research company rather than a specialist, who will tend to recommend their own type of research.
Choosing the construction Market Research Provider that’s right for you
You need to circulate a brief outlining your construction research objectives, construction company background, construction product range, construction target markets and if you can, approximate budget, to your shortlist of companies. (See blog “How to write a comprehensive market research brief”). In return, request a proposal detailing what they can deliver, proposed research methods, timescales, costs, proof of expertise in your business sector and examples of relevant past research projects. Be aware that some larger companies may charge for writing a proposal.
It’s a good idea to meet with the prospective bidders with the most attractive proposals. Meeting face-to-face provides the opportunity to get a better feel for who the company actually is, whom you will be dealing with and how you get along. The successful Market Research Provider will become a temporary part of your team, so relationships and compatibility shouldn’t be overlooked.
Try to avoid comparing proposals on cost alone. Base your decision rather on who has the best grasp of your construction research objectives and can clearly demonstrate how they will extract the information. This cannot be overemphasised for the construction industry, where generalists may fail to perceive the sector’s unique characteristics. A company keen for your business should be able to work with you to value-engineer their proposal without compromising the outcome too much.
Finally, what are you expecting the Market Research Provider to do with the data obtained? Provide analysis alone, or interpretation and recommendations too? If you need help implementing the recommendations, you need a fully-integrated marketing consultancy that has an understanding of construction.
It may seem like a minefield – but it needn’t be. Remember the following points when choosing your Construction Market Research Provider:
- What type and size of company do you want to work with?
- Do you want research only or a more integrated service?
- Do you want a specialist market researcher in your sector of the industry?
- How well do they demonstrate understanding of your company, markets, customers and your research objectives?
- How well will they integrate with your team?